KHARKIV, Ukraine (AFP) – Ukrainian forces have continued to pressure relentlessly on the retreating Russian forces. On Tuesday, in an attempt to retain its sudden momentum that produced significant regional gains.
New yellow and blue flags fluttered from the tops of remaining buildings in the partially destroyed towns around Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, as Ukrainian soldiers inspected charred Russian tanks departing along the way.
From the beginning of September until today, our soldiers have already liberated more than 6000 square kilometers of the territory of Ukraine – in the east and south. “The movements of our troops are continuing,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address late Monday.
Many claims of military success cannot be independently verified.
British intelligence, daubing Russia’s wounds with salt, said that one of Moscow’s main forces, the 1st Guards Tank Army, had been “severely degraded” during the invasion and that “the Russian conventional force designed to counter NATO is severely weakened. It will likely take Russia years to rebuild this Ability “.
But the retreat did not prevent Russia from bombing Ukrainian positions. Early on Tuesday, the city of Lozova in the Kharkiv region was bombed, killing three people and wounding nine, said district governor Ole Senehubov.
District Governor Valentin Reznichenko said the Nikopol district, located across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, was bombed six times during the night but no casualties were immediately reported. The continued bombing left Europe’s largest nuclear facility in a critical position.
Zelensky specifically criticized Russia for targeting energy infrastructure in its attacks over the past days. “Hundreds and thousands of Ukrainians found themselves in the dark – without electricity. Homes, hospitals, schools, community infrastructure … sites that had absolutely nothing to do with the infrastructure of our country’s armed forces.”
He said he could only refer to one thing. This is a sign of the desperation of those who made this war. This is how they reacted to the defeat of the Russian troops in the Kharkiv region. They can’t do anything to our heroes on the battlefield.”
Ukrainian military intelligence said Russian forces were surrendering en masse. A Ukrainian presidential adviser said there were so many prisoners of war that the country was running out of space to accommodate them.
The counterattack left the Kremlin struggling to respond to its biggest military defeat in Ukraine since Russian forces withdrew from areas near Kyiv after a failed attempt to seize the capital early in the invasion.
The Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged the setback in a map that showed its forces had retreated along a narrow patch of land on the border with Russia – a tacit acknowledgment of significant Ukrainian gains.
It is not yet clear whether the Ukrainian blitzkrieg could signal a turning point in the war. Momentum has shifted back and forth before, but rarely with such a large and sudden swing.
Some in Russia blamed Western weapons and fighters for the losses.
“It was not Ukraine that attacked Izyum, but NATO,” said a headline in the state-backed newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, referring to one of the areas where Russia said it had withdrawn its forces.
Elsewhere, residents of a Russian village just across the border were evacuated from Ukraine after shelling by Ukrainian forces killed one person, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
The report quoted the head of the local administration in Lugachevka as saying that Ukrainian forces opened fire on a border checkpoint.
Arhirova reported from Kyiv.
Follow the AP’s war coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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